Choosing the Right Chiropractor

Choosing a chiropractor that is right for you can be a confusing process. To make the search easier, start with a list of questions to ask the staff, read reviews online and keep your eye out for some red flags.

What criteria would you suggest people use when selecting a good chiropractor?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: That’s a really good question. And there is some variety out there in types of chiropractors. Some chiropractors are a little more sports related. Some people just do general spine care. My office, we focus a little bit more on pediatric and family care, maternity care, and things like that. It’s very different depending on what your specific needs are.

The couple of criteria that I would always look for when looking for a good chiropractor, number one would be experience. Right? Look, in school they teach you a lot, but they prepare you for the board and they teach you how not to hurt people. And then after that you develop and hone your skills. Experience, I think is important. I think the more experience a chiropractor has usually they’re going to be better. Not saying that a new doctor out of school is going to be horrible, but experience is always helpful.

Things you would want to look at, have they done additional studies in radiology or whatever their chosen specialty is? Do they do advanced coursework in pediatrics, in maternity care? Do they do family care? Or do they have additional degrees in sports chiropractic? So, depending on what you need, those are things that you may also want to look at.

A few other things, reviews out there are kind of important. So, you want to make sure that they have decent reviews. And the one thing that I always look for is if you look at their website and they’re talking about subluxations, and that’s when the vertebrae get misaligned, stuck in those abnormal positions, and they’re irritating the nerves, which is the primary thing a chiropractor treats. If they’re using the term subluxation, I would be more likely to gravitate towards that office.

So, experience, additional studies, you can look at reviews, and then use of the term subluxation, I think is extremely important when choosing the right chiropractor. Because if they’re not using that word, then it’s more like physical therapy and it can be redundant.

How should a potential patient evaluate a doctor, the staff, and the office environment?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, that’s a pretty fair question. Typically, when you call into the office, the first person you’re going to have contact with is the staff, right? You’re not really going to speak to the doctor. Most people don’t know anything about me until they’ve spoken to my staff or read my website. So, evaluating a doctor, I would talk to the staff and make sure you get that friendly vibe.

Is there a nice clean office environment? You can look on their website and see what they have there. Are there good reviews? I mean, that’s also another thing which most people use now, are there reviews on the website? You can even call in to the office and ask to speak to the doctor and see how patient centered are they? Is the doctor too busy to actually speak to a patient or could he come to the phone and answer a few questions?

So those are things that I would take a look at as well. Ask to speak to the doctor, ask a few questions of the staff and see if you get comfortable and really get a good vibe. And those are the things that I would really look at if you’re trying to evaluate the doctor and the staff and that’s really how I would look at it.

Is there a way to independently check a chiropractor’s credentials?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Sure. The state education department in New York state is what looks after chiropractors. So, you can certainly go on to their website, see if there’s been any complaints filed. You can also look at the Better Business Bureau. A lot of people, if they have a bad experience will go on BBB and make statements and reviews and if you see a lot of suspicious activity or things that don’t make you feel good there, that might be another red flag.

You can independently again, check reviews. You can’t source them, and every office has got bad reviews from an unhappy patient. I’m sure every office can’t please everyone. So, you have to take that into account as well. Typically, if I’m looking at reviews online and that person reviewer someone slams another office or slams someplace, I go and look at that person’s reviews, because usually they’re all compiled somewhere, and if every review is scathing and negative, I just probably think that’s probably a bitter, angry person and just might be venting and not every person that he reviews is all that horrible.

So, you have to kind of go through those reviews and filter it through your lens and make sure you’re comfortable with that. But typically looking at reviews, checking with your Better Business Bureau and checking with the state education department to see if there’s been any complaints filed, that would be the best way to independently check and kind of look at their credentials.

Should people look for a chiropractor who takes x-rays in house?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Not necessarily, Liz. X-ray is an important tool in chiropractic. I always tell my patients, “To see is to know. But not to see is to guess.” And I know most people aren’t coming into my office for a guess. Actually, visualizing, looking at the vertebrae, checking their shape, their alignment is very important, but they don’t have to be taken in house. We’re here in New York City, space is quite expensive. There’s an expert x-ray lab that’s two blocks from our office. So, we refer out for films. But I think x-ray use in chiropractic is extremely important. And we would x-ray the site of concern on probably 80% of our patients, obviously not the expecting moms. That wouldn’t be the best play, but that’s basically how it would work. But just because they don’t have an x-ray machine in the office, doesn’t make them a good or bad doctor. But utilizing x-rays I think is very important.

What are the basic treatments and therapies we should expect a chiropractor to offer?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, the most important thing is the chiropractic adjustment and that’s what chiropractic is. It’s the detection and removal of the vertebral subluxation, which are those misalignments that when the vertebrae or the bones get out of position, they get fixed or stuck in those positions and they start irritating the nerve. So, if they’re not doing their chiropractic adjustment, I wouldn’t go anywhere near that office because then they’re just glorified physical therapy or anything like that.

Don’t get me wrong, if I needed to rehab my knee or my shoulder, I want to go to a physical therapist. It’s not that I choose one over the other, but they do different things. So, if they’re not doing chiropractic adjustments, I would stay away from that office. Usually, they might add in a few other things, some range of motion exercises, massage, or electric stim or whatever. And if those things are covered and licensed in your state, by all means you can go.

The most important thing is to make sure that they are adjusting to remove subluxations. And that’s the question I would ask when you call up. Does your chiropractor adjust to detect and remove subluxation or is it just like a physical therapy office? Because if you’re going to physical therapy, I would rather go to a physical therapist because that’s what they’re specifically trained on, where chiropractors are more about detection and removal of the chiropractic misalignment or what we call subluxation.

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